For many, it will have been business as usual up until a few weeks ago.
Client meetings, brainstorming with colleagues, popping out for lunch, and the usual daily routine will have seemed incredibly mundane until they were transformed in an instant by the Coronavirus pandemic.
This drastic change has led to a time of extreme concern for businesses globally, with anxiety surrounding the impact on clients, staffing, and finances.
As staff up and down the country adapt to working from home, the most fundamental change businesses will be facing day-to-day is with communication.
Businesses are being forced to re-evaluate, and in some ways reinvent, how they can most effectively communicate with their clients, their staff, and their entire professional community under the most challenging of circumstances.
And they cannot afford to get it wrong, because right now effective communication is key.
Here, our Communications Manager Gemma Gwilym shares her top tips on how to communicate effectively within your business during this unprecedented health crisis.
Be human and authentic
With stress and worry inevitably having an impact across all levels of the business community, this is a time throw the corporate spiel out of the window and replace it with compassionate communications.
Whether you are communicating with staff who are worried about job security, clients who are concerned about the financial impact on their business, or industry colleagues who are in the same boat as you without a paddle, the same well-considered, empathetic communications approach applies.
In all forms of communication – from emails to virtual meetings and newsletters to media statements, ensure you are communicating honestly, and paying particular attention to the audience you are speaking to and the effect this is having on them.
When this is over, it’s that compassion and understanding, which will speak volumes about your business and what it stands for.
Don’t forget internal communication
While it’s natural to think external first in times of crises, with news suggesting that 25 million jobs will be at risk globally because of the pandemic, workers are going to be understandably worried.
As employers, loyal staff are now more crucial than ever to the continued running of your business, so it’s essential they are kept informed.
Consistent communication is the most effective way to address and eradicate any growing concerns. Keep senior leaders visible during this time and send out regular internal updates, even if there is ‘no change’, to help staff feel informed about what is going on.
It’s also crucial to communicate openly and fully in relation to company decisions which directly impact their lives, and ultimately livelihood. This could include flexible working, reduced hours, an inability to work from home, or childcare. Issues which impact a worker’s family life are likely to be more emotive, so timely and honest communications are more likely to make staff feel supported and valued.
For customer-facing staff, there may be questions or concerns coming in from clients or suppliers. Ensure these staff are briefed on what can be said externally and how to deliver those communications.
Be meaningful and useful
At a time when most businesses globally are panicked about the overall effect this virus will have on their ongoing survival, be sensitive about what you communicate.
While you may be panicking internally about your sparse prospect list, now is not the time for a hard-sell.
Use your communications efforts to add value to your network, be it through blogs, vlogs, webinars or social posts.
Offer meaningful and useful advice which in turn will highlight your expertise.
Before sending out a piece of communications through your network, ask yourself:
- Is it meaningful and useful?
- Is this something I would appreciate?
- Does this reflect our brand?
While you may feel like burying your head in the sand until this pandemic subsides and normal business resumes, during times of crisis being present – or in this case ‘digitally present’ – is crucial.
Even if your business is temporarily closed, stay front of mind with your customers through regular communications.
With people looking to social media for news updates and ‘light relief’ content while they stay at home, use your social channels to stay present.
From giving people an insight into what you or your colleagues are up to during the ‘lockdown’ or have meaningful conversations with people within your network, there are a number of ways you can remain ‘digitally present’ despite it not being business as usual.
Gemma is our resident media mastermind at jamjar. If you need that journo shine added to a story and an inside look into the mind of a reporter, she’s your gal.